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Saks co-authors 'Wall Street Journal' article on jury size

January 08, 2009

Professor Michael Saks, of the Sandra Day O'Connor College of Law, co-authored an article this week in the Wall Street Journal on the importance of having 12 jurors, rather than a smaller number. Saks wrote the Jan. 6 article, "Justice Requires 12 Angry Men," with Steven Calabresi, the George C. Dix Professor of Law at Northwestern Law.

In it, the authors argue that the U.S. Supreme Court has made an "embarrassing muddle" over what size a jury should be, and that it should hear Deltoro v. Florida, a case on the issue, to correct the damage the Court has done to the Constitution.

Framers of the Constitution expected that juries would consist of 12 members, as they had for six centuries of English common law, the authors state. But in 1970, the Supreme Court ruled that state legislatures could alter the size of juries.  In Deltoro, the defendant, William Bolivar Deltoro was conviced of sexually assaulting his daughter and sent to prison for life by a six-person jury. Saks and Calabresi cite studies that show that smaller juries do not perform as well, and urge the court to clarify the issue in Deltoro.

Read the article here.

Judy Nichols,
(480) 727-7895
Sandra Day O'Connor College of Law